10 Questions with Sarah Allen

The Future Now Symposium is an exploration of 21st century culture through the mechanism of art, running 28 April – 1 May. This multidisciplinary four-day virtual event brings together key institutions, galleries, publications and artists for live-streamed discussions surrounding the most pressing issues from today’s creative industries. Through imaginative debates, panel discussions, career advice and cultural engagement, Future Now is a platform for idea generation.

Future Now finds a new home in an accessible online space for 2021. This year, our sessions are available to stream from the comfort of your home. Ahead of this year’s event, we ask our key speakers 10 questions.

Name, title and organisation?

Sarah Allen, Assistant Curator of International Art at Tate Modern, Britain.

How would you describe your role?

I work across temporary exhibitions, displays and acquisitions. I have recently installed the touring survey Zanele Muholi and I’m currently working on the Sophie Taeuber-Arp retrospective – opening in July. I am also excited about the upcoming Turbine Hall Commission. We will announce the exhibiting artist later this year.

The best part about what you do?

Hands down, working with living artists and getting a window into their ways of seeing the world. I also deliver Offprint in the Turbine Hall each year – hosting publishers from 17 different countries. Exploring the world of photobook publishing allows me to discover offbeat, exciting new work.

Your most significant project to date?

Co-curating the major Zanele Muholi exhibition in 2020. I worked on it for three years – it was a real passion project! When the first UK lockdown happened, the show was moved to a larger space so I had to re-image and remap everything. I absolutely love working on books too, so I was delighted to commission Loose Joints to work on the design of the catalogue.

Favourite piece of art?

Too many to say. However, Arthur Jafa’s Love is The Message, The Message is Death particularly resonates this year. Several major institutions across America and Europe livestreamed the film around the time of the Black Lives Matter protests.

The best in-person or virtual exhibition / event you’ve attended in the last year?

Toyin Ojih Odutola: A Countervailing Theory at The Curve, Barbican, Britain. I would add their show Masculinities: Liberation through Photography. I wanted to return for a deeper dive, but lockdowns put an end to that plan!

Biggest take-away from 2020?!

Humans have a great ability to adapt but also to forget. It is pretty phenomenal how quickly people have adapted to this all-encompassing shift in how we live our lives. Let’s hope the new ways of living and working are not forgotten in the race back to business as usual.

Lessons to take forward into 2021?

Stop and smell the roses.

What are you most looking forward to exploring in your session at Future Now?

Discussing notions of collaboration and agency with Bieke Depoorter. I’m also looking forward to hearing how the past year has influenced her practice.

Other sessions you’re looking forward to attending?

Politics & Identity: Shirin Neshat in Conversation, Beyond Each Horizon is Another: In Conversation with Athi-Patra Ruga, Curating During a Time of Change and New Australian Art: Geography, Perspective and Genre.

Sarah Allen will be in conversation with Future Now Headline Speaker Bieke Depoorter, Thursday 29 April, 19.30 – 20:30 BST.

The Future Now Symposium runs 28 April – 1 May (Live), 2 – 31 May (On Demand). Tickets are available now, starting from £20.